Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Comic Certified by CGC Sells for $245,000

Posted on 9/8/2021

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 embodies the Copper Age of comic books.

The 1980s are known to comic book collectors as the Copper Age of comics — an era that introduced innovative titles and artists, as well as bringing iconic new characters into the comic book arena. While the heroes and villains of the Copper Age include famed characters like Deadpool, Venom and Boba Fett, none have become as widely known or sought after as a foursome of crime-fighting reptiles named after Renaissance painters.

Recently, a copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 graded 9.8 by Certified Guaranty Company® (CGC®) sold for $245,000 on ComicConnect, the highest price ever paid for the comic.

From sewer to screen

From sewer to screen

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) were introduced to the world in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in a self-published comic that provided the origin story of Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo, a team of turtle brothers trained as ninjas by a rat known as Sensei Splinter. Inspired by popular comics from the early 1980s, including Daredevil, Cerberus and Ronin, TMNT followed the turtles as they fought crime and ate pizza in New York City.

Three years after the launch of the comic book, TMNT got its big break on network television. The CBS cartoon show and the action figure line that quickly followed led to mainstream success for the franchise, spawning TMNT products ranging from breakfast cereals to lunch boxes to trading cards. There was even a TMNT concert tour in 1990 — the “Coming Out of Their Shells” tour — that included a premier at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The rise in popularity of Copper Age comics

The demand for Copper Age comics has been on the rise over the past decade, driven by interest from collectors in their 30s and 40s who experienced Copper Age titles as teens. Among the most sought after items are Albedo #2, Bone #1, Transformers #1, Star Wars #42, which was the first Star Wars comic to include popular bounty hunter Boba Fett, and G. I. Joe #21, which was the first G. I. Joe comic to include Storm Shadow. Each of those titles has sold recently on eBay in excess of $3,000.

Landmark price paid for TMNT comic graded CGC 9.8

Nearly forty years after its publication, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle #1 is considered by many to be the most important comic of the Copper Age. Recent sales of graded copies of the comic reveal just how coveted it has become. Prior to this record-setting sale, the top price was $88,000 for a CGC 9.6 signed by Eastman and Laird, and a CGC 7.5 sold on eBay on August 21, 2021, for $19,000.

CGC’s Standard Grading Scale for comic books, magazines, concert posters and lobby cards achieves precision grading by considering a wide range of factors. A 10 is only awarded to collectibles that have no evidence of any manufacturing or handling defects. A collectible with very minor manufacturing defects and no evidence of handling defects would be graded 9.9. A nearly perfect collectible with negligible handling or manufacturing defects would be graded 9.8. (A full listing of CGC grades with explanations can be found here.)

Due to factors including a limited print run of only 3,250, a non-standard size, and the use of cheap newsprint for printing, it is rare to find copies of TMNT #1 receiving an exceptional grade.

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